Review: Nightwing: Rebirth #1

Writer Tim Seeley would like to introduce you to Dick Grayson. Nightwing: Rebirth attempts -- as does seemingly all Rebirth books -- to place its title character on solid ground after years of uncertainty. After some time working as a spy, life-long superhero Dick Grayson is looking to reconnect with his superhero identity. I find it difficult to discuss Nightwing without mentioning Batman. So… I'm going to go ahead and mention Batman a few times.

Dick Grayson is one of DC's stronger characters depending on how you view his canonical history. He has gone from loyal sidekick to smarmy leader to capable solo act. Dick is frankly a better man than his father Bruce. The former does not share the latter’s inability to move on from grief. Nor does Dick seem stifled by the hard reality that Batman’s war on crime can never be won. If NTWREB_Cv1_dsBruce ever came to terms with that reality, he'd retire from his role as the Caped Crusader. Dick Grayson has better, more relatable reasons for enacting his vigilante justice.

Dick has friend and not just allies. This makes Seeley’s run promising from a character driven standpoint. For example, Nightwing has to protect his brother Damian from an evil cult of pompous bird-worshipers. Also there's the fact that said evil cult wants to make him their dark messiah or something. There’s no vague goal here. Nightwing’s family is in danger, so he does must to protect them. Grayson seems determined to shine some light into the darker parts of Damian's soul. The kid comes from violence and struggles to prove himself to his father. Seeley’s writing is at its best with theses two brothers, though sometimes a bit Silver Age stiff and awkward.

If nothing else Nightwing in Rebirth stands as a much needed counterpoint to his father/mentor. Batman has allies; Nightwing has friends. He works in darkness but does not live there. As a man forged by tragedy and uncertainty he could devote himself to beating order into chaos. But instead, Dick's ambition lies elsewhere. Yanick Paquette’s often playful art convinces you that Grayson loves being a hero. Nightwing’s cocky grin is a lot of fun to see amid a sea of brooding, stoic faces.

Rebirth appears to be Dick's opportunity to redefine his place in the Bat Family. Out of fiction, it's obviously a chance for DC to backslide and reestablish the commonly held status quo. And that's not necessarily as negative as it could be. With Nightwing: Rebirth Tim Seeley operates within the narrow confines of DC's ever-changing canon. Seeley takes what we know about Dick -- that he is a deeply moral thrill-seeker, a thinker, a concerned brother, a devoted but independent son, and a valuable friend -- and he makes that the driving impetus for Nightwing's new-ish direction. This book is a look back that informs a lot of what’s ahead.

This is an excellent intro to the life of Dick Grayson. And it does an exceptional job teasing future storylines.

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Nightwing: Rebirth #1
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99
Format: One-Shot; Print/Digital